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N.B. leads the way in resources for LGBTQ community

Transitioning to the body that makes you happy can be a hard. It is especially hard for people in the small towns that are prevalent throughout the East Coast. Here, people can tend to be more judgmental and finding a doctor can be difficult.

Alex Warford is a 23-year-old who was assigned male at birth but is now living as a woman. She says she’s known from a young age that she was different.

“I guess it was noticeable at around age five. But I fully acknowledged it at age 12,” she explained.

Originally from Labrador City, she moved to Toronto for a better and easier life. Just two months ago, she moved to Fredericton. Being a kid in a small town was hard for her.

“Labrador was probably the hardest place to live in because it’s a very small place where people are raised very closed-minded so they just don’t understand and choose not to understand. They also watched me transition and they chose to tease me.“

These struggles may soon be a thing of the past though, as the government of New Brunswick is set to launch a new program.

On Feb. 1, the New Brunswick LGBTQ Inclusive Resource will be available in paper and online, in English and French. The resource is available to teachers, guidance counsellors, administration, students and parents with information on any LGBTQ issue they may have.

Tammy Strong is a learning specialist at the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. She says that provinces like Newfoundland, Manitoba and Ontario have resources like the one in New Brunswick, but not as developed.

“We can’t start in Grade 7. We needed to create a kindergarten to Grade 12 kit, something that has never been created before,” she said.

Both the physical and online editions focus on sexual orientation and gender identity. Along with the release, 100 Anglophone schools and district office staff will be taking courses on how to deal with trans issues and other LGBTQ topics.

It was important for Strong to create something that started at a young age.

“Children are starting to identify themselves before starting school that they aren’t cisgender, so it was important that this resource be available starting in kindergarten.”

Last year, the government of New Brunswick passed Bill 703, which gives students the right to start a Gay Straight Alliance group (GSA). In December, the province of Alberta passed Bill 10, which does not allow any schools to have GSAs. Strong believes that New Brunswick is ahead of some provinces but could always be doing more.

“Do I think we’re done here? Of course not, but we are taking big steps forward and we’re now the first jurisdiction to have this resource available K-12.”

Warford is happy to see that the school system is working on making things more accepting, especially for those who are trans. She says that transitioning can be hard and that support is the key.

“Just continue to be yourself and follow the path of what you think is best for you. If anyone tells you different, just remember you live your life, not them. You’re perfectly imperfect.”

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